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Oxygen Equipment 101

Oxygen, we all need it for survival and some need it more than others because of compromised health.  I have had frequent queries regarding what is available for oxygen equipment and what is best for travelling.  Supplemental oxygen can come in three different categories, namely Compressed gas (Cylinders), Liquid form and Generated oxygen (Concentrators).  In any of these forms, the amount of time one would have before running out usually is dependent on the flowrate.  Please note that the amount of oxygen needed or flow rates are determined and assessed by your Physician or Health Care Professional.

Compressed gas cylinders have been around for a long time and most people have seen them.  They are normally referred to as “tanks”.  These Cylinders, or tanks, are usually used for portability when going out.  The most common complaint from people who use them, is that it does not last very long and that they are heavy.  They can be fairly awkward to handle and a few cylinders are needed if you are going out for any length of time.  One positive note is that it is quiet when in use.

Liquid oxygen is another way that a person can get supplemental oxygen.  You can use this type as a stationary unit as their main source of oxygen and/or have a portable unit that you fill off of the stationary unit.  Liquid oxygen requires someone having to go to their home and refill the unit as it only holds so much liquid oxygen.  Many have referred to them like a BBQ propane tank.  Having liquid oxygen will last longer than cylinders as the liquid converts to gaseous form when in use.  It is quite safe but caution should be observed as burns can happen, this is because liquid oxygen requires a temperature of -183 degrees Celsius or -297 degrees Fahrenheit in order to keep it at liquid form.  Some people have mentioned that the weight is comparable to the cylinders, maybe slightly lighter but lasts longer.  It is quiet when in use but requires it to be upright at all times.

An Oxygen Concentrator is a machine that will generate oxygen using the air surrounding it.  There are many types of these concentrators, but really can be categorized into two sections, Stationary or Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POC)Stationary units, as it states, are usually used at home as your main source of oxygen.  It requires an electrical outlet to power up the unit.  This type of unit will provide a continuous flow rate of oxygen and one can hook up tubing long enough to get you from room to room, just be sure not to trip on the tubing.  Most oxygen concentrators come as a 5L or 10L unit which means that the flow rate can go up to 5 L/min or 10 L/min.  These units are quite common and easy to use.  As long as there is power to the house, the concentrator will work.  One downfall is that it can be noisy and will generate heat.

Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POC) are usually used for portability when needing oxygen away from home.  There are various types of units which vary in size and weight and work with rechargeable batteries.  Typically, these units work in a “Pulse Dose” mode as opposed to continuous flow rate, meaning that every time a person takes a breath in, it gives a “shot” of oxygen.  This pulse dose modality helps conserve battery life and help extend your time away from your main oxygen source or home.  Due to this pulse dosing, one may require a higher flow rate when using these units as opposed to the stationary ones.  There is a new POC on the market by Oxygo called the Oxygo Next.  It is one of the lightest units, only 4.7 lbs. and can have up to 13 hours of battery life.  It can also handle flow rates between 1-6 L/min.  This unit is approved for air travel (please confirm with your airline) and comes with a car and wall charger giving you lots of freedom.

Come check out our online store, Capital Medical Supply, for a full range of stationary and portable oxygen concentrators including the Oxygo Next.  If you have any other questions about respiratory care please feel free to contact us and speak with an expert.

David

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